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This concise revisionist account of the historical evolution of Islamic society breaks new ground by going beyond the caliph and the capital. Bulliet abandons the historian's typical habit of viewing Islamic history "from the center," that is, focusing on the rise and fall of imperial dynasties. Instead, he derives a lucid and accurate understanding of how and why Islam became -- and continues to be -- so rooted in the social structure of the vast majority of people who lived far from the political locus and did not see the caliphate as essential in their lives.
Focusing his research on Iran, and especially the cities of Isfahan, Gorgan, and Nishapur, Bulliet presents a new and fuller consideration of religous conversion, migration and demographic trends, education and its role in defining cultural norms, and the changing functions and fortunes of cities and urban life, as well as the roots and meaning of religious authority. Islan: The View from the Edge elucidates for the first time the role and history of this complex religion in everyday life.